The Founding Scriptures of Christianity: The Old Testament
I am regularly dumfounded by the aggressive behavior of people in the Christian community who seek to erase the Old Testament. One key aspect of this dynamic is their claim that only (or primarily) the New Testament accurately contains the doctrines appropriate for Christian life.
This absurd canard can be demolished in multiple ways, but the first unassailable point is this: The New Testament didn’t exist as an authoritative collection of writings until the second century A.D., as is explained by F.F. Bruce.
The first steps in the formation of a canon of authoritative Christian books, worthy to stand beside the Old Testament canon, which was the Bible of our Lord and His apostles, appear to have been taken about the beginning of the second century, when there is evidence for the circulation of two collections of Christian writings in the Church.
At a very early date it appears that the four Gospels were united in one collection. They must have been brought together very soon after the writing of the Gospel according to John. This fourfold collection was known originally as ‘The Gospel’ in the singular, not ‘The Gospels’ in the plural; there was only one Gospel, narrated in four records, distinguished as ‘according to Matthew,’ ‘according to Mark,’ and so on. About AD 115 Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, refers to ‘The Gospel’ as an authoritative writing, and as he knew more than one of the four ‘Gospels’ it may well be that by ‘The Gospel’ he means the fourfold collection which went by that name.
Thus, though the Books that would eventually comprise the New Testament were individually written between 40 and 100 A.D., their incorporation into the Christian Canon of Scripture didn’t even begin until after 115 A.D. at the earliest.
Thus by even the most generous accounting it is by the Scriptures of the Old Testament that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed for the first 100 years after His resurrection.
This fact demolishes claims of the “New Testament” church. In fact when we actually read the New Testament we find Jesus Christ and His Apostles using the Old Testament as the authoritative Scriptural basis for the Gospel. Yes, the Apostles also quote Christ, but this authoritative source was at that time based on a carefully preserved oral tradition and perhaps a written list of “the sayings of Jesus.”
However, it is Jesus Christ Himself who used the Scriptures of the Old Testament as the authoritative source for His Gospel, culminating with the Risen Lord’s words on the Road to Emmaus.
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Thus it was by the Old Testament Scriptures that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed to the pagan Roman world. And, by these Scriptures the Christian Church experienced sustained, explosive growth.
And yet, in this appalling ignorance or worse the “New Testament Christians” claim that the Old Testament is unreliable as God’s Word and unsuitable as a source of Christian doctrine.